SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- The NJSIAA, the governing body for New Jersey high school sports, said on Wednesday, April 1, that it is committed to doing whatever is possible to provide New Jersey’s student-athletes with some type of spring season, although a return-to-school date and public health guidelines will determine the viability of spring competition.
We have not given up on spring sports, and will continue holding teleconferences and virtual meetings with leaders of our various leagues and conferences to assess options. - NJSIAA
One of the most disappointing aspects of the coronavirus crisis is the overwhelming sense of loss that has accompanied the physical toll it has inflicted. For Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School students, the loss of precious time is perhaps the worst aspect of social distancing restrictions.
The time away from school seems particularly cruel for the senior class, naturally. For many athletes, the 2020 spring season was to be the culmination of not only four years of high school athletics, but also the end of the line for some teammates who have been together on playing fields since elementary school.
Dean Kirian, who plays second base and outfield for the baseball team, said he was disappointed to get a taste of the season and then have it taken away.
"Not being able to play is the toughest part. I miss seeing the guys and the coaches," Kirian said. "We got a little taste with tryouts, and then it took a big downfall. This came out of nowhere. No one was ready for it."
"Hopefully we can get back out there. I really want to play my senior season, but I’m not sure we are going to have it," said Kirian, who is setting up a batting cage in his yard to practice while the season is on hold. "Stay positive and keep training. If we get out there, we’ll be ready."
Michael Urbano, a pitcher on the baseball team, tries to run daily, does pushups and pullups, lifts weights and throws into a net in his backyard. While he misses being with his teammates, Urbano put playing sports into perspective.
"Public health is more important than a baseball season," Urbano said. "Whoever else reads this, please stay inside don’t do anything to endanger your life or the lives of others. Eventually, we'll get through this."
Lacrosse player Aidan Guma says he has spent the past few weeks trying to stay in shape by running, lifting, and passing the ball with his brother, Riley, who is home from his junior year at college. Lacrosse coach Nick Miceli, gives players a workout each day on BAND, a team app that they all can see.
While he is disappointed that his senior year has been postponed, Guma doesn't feel cheated.
"I had three other years to be grateful for," said Guma, who will play lacrosse at Montclair State next year. "I wanted to give it one more go -- one more time with my boys from elementary school."
"This (coronavirus crisis) has opened my eyes... Don’t take anything for granted, and life isn’t always fair," Guma said. "Take nothing for granted and just go with it as it comes."
"I completely understand that the main problem is the virus, and it needs to be limited as much as possible. With the loss of lacrosse right now, I definitely do feel a bit cheated by what is going on," said Mike DiFrancesco, a senior lacrosse player. "One of the worst parts of this situation is that there is nothing I can do to bring back the season. It is hard to accept that I have played this game for the majority of my life and made it to the last chapter with my teammates... and we do not even get a chance to finish what we started."
"In a way I do feel a little cheated but things like this happen, though they are a rare occurrence," said CJ Bunin, also a lacrosse player. "I just wish I was able to play because I spent a lot of my time in the offseason training and trying to get better."
Girls lacrosse player Maggie Lapolla runs 1-2 miles each day because she hasn't been able to lift weights because all the gyms are closed. She has spent her time doing school work, watching YouTube, and Facetiming with friends. She is hoping school will reopen.
"I hope school can reopen and give the class of 2020 time to enjoy the last month or two with friends and not have to worry about not graduating," Lapolla said.
"There are a lot of things that I had planned for senior year, and with the year up in the air, I may never get a chance to those things I wanted to do before graduating," she added. "Not being able to see friends or my favorite teachers has been tough."
But for Lapolla, who plans to continue her athletic career at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) at the Division I level, not playing lacrosse has been particularly hard.
"We really anticipated this year to be our year. To have that taken away has been a tough pill to swallow," she said. "To think that we may never play with each other again is hard. Not having a Senior Day is tough."
For many amateur athletes, the senior year of high school is a special time. By the spring, most of them know where they are going next year, and they cherish the remaining time they have with their high school friends, some of whom they have known since kindergarten. However, only a few will continue to play sports on the college level, and for many of them, senior year of high school represents the end of their athletic careers.
However, there have been some positives for many of the high school students.
"Now I get to spend more time with family. We all have plenty of time to really learn more about each other. My brother has just come home from school, so we are able to talk more," DiFrancesco said. "My parents have more free time, so I have been able to do things with them as well. Overall, quarantining is awful, but being able to have family around is a good part of it."
"You have to try to be positive and find good things from bad situations," Lapolla told TAPintoSPF. "My family is the most important thing to me. Now being home so much, we have just been watching movies and spending the most time together and cherishing the moments with each other."
Check with TAPintoSPF for continuous LOCAL Coronavirus news. Sign up for our free eNewsletter for breaking updates. TAPintoSPF.net is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily local news source. “Like” us on Facebook and Twitter @SPF_TAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.